The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective
AbstractThis paper summarizes the main findings of the recent studies that have constructed top income and wealth shares series over the century for a number of countries using tax statistics. Most countries experience a dramatic drop in top income shares in the first part of the century due to a precipitous drop in large wealth holdings during the wars and depression shocks. Top income shares do not recover in the immediate post war decades. However, over the last 30 years, top income shares have increased substantially in English speaking countries but not at all in continental Europe countries or Japan. This increase is due to an unprecedented surge in top wage incomes starting in the 1970s and accelerating in the 1990s. As a result, top wage earners have replaced capital income earners at the top of the income distribution in English speaking countries. We discuss the proposed explanations and the main questions that remain open.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11955.
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 200-205, May.
- D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
- J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Simon Kuznets, 1950.
"Shares of Upper Income Groups in Savings,"
in: Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings, pages 45-58
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dell, Fabien & Piketty, Thomas & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Switzerland Over the 20th Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 5090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005. "Where Did Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 67-150.
- Ian Dew-Becker & Robert J. Gordon, 2005.
"Where Did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income,"
NBER Working Papers
11842, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2005. "Where did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income," CEPR Discussion Papers 5419, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Simon Kuznets, 1950.
"Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings,"
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn50-1, December.
- Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1953. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn53-1, December.
- Emmanuel Saez & Michael R. Veall, 2005. "The Evolution of High Incomes in Northern America: Lessons from Canadian Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 831-849, June.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Inégalités et déséquilibres globaux : reconsidérer de vieilles idées pour traiter de nouveaux problèmes
by creel in OFCE le blog on 2013-05-27 09:12:25
- Inequality and Global Imbalances: reconsidering old ideas to address new problems
by creel in OFCE le blog on 2013-05-27 09:50:00
- Wealth and Inequality in Britain
by Brian Ashcroft in Scottish Economy Watch on 2012-07-16 17:37:49
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.